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The Early History of Nanny Cay

RIP Raldo: Nov 5th 1927 – Dec 8th 2010

Raldo Charles

Raldo Charles was perhaps Nanny Cay’s longest serving team member. He was a reassuring constant for general manager, Miles Sutherland-Pilch who touched base with Raldo daily.

Raldo’s history with Nanny Cay spanned more than four decades and was vested in the growth and success of Nanny Cay Resort and Marina. His family owns the land that marks the entry to Nanny Cay. He and his father were instrumental in opening the way to the development some fifty years ago. They were approached in 1961 by Gary Turpin, a developer from the UK. Turpin wanted to build a road across their land to provide access to three cays, which were earmarked as a marina development.

The cays were uninhabited and had been a playground for Raldo and his friends. They would swim across the narrow strip, herding their family’s livestock to let the goat and sheep graze off the scrub and drink from the fresh water spring at Hog Hole. Today, the hotel reception sits on the site of this watering hole, which had eventually dried out.

The Charles gentlemen considered the request for an access road and, being a man keen on the idea of development, Raldo agreed to grant permission.

Soon after he made the decision, Raldo moved to St Thomas where he worked as a carpenter. By the time he returned to Tortola in 1977, Raldo was well versed in many aspects of construction. He set up as an independent builder and was approached by the developer of the day to get involved with the construction of Nanny Cay Marina.

Raldo’s intimate knowledge of the lay of the land, his professional experience and enthusiastic approach to development made him the perfect foreman.

Some dredging was necessary to deepen the harbour and upon completion of the first phase, Nanny Cay comprised eight fixed docks. Raldo remembers the concrete for the boatyard being poured at night to ensure that it didn’t dry out too soon.

Nanny-Cay-Image-1Raldo recounted his memory of the pilings being driven on Miss Peggy Cay to support Peg Leg Landing, the restaurant at the mouth of Nanny Cay. The effort was met with concern and skepticism by the planners of the day. Raldo proudly points out that these pilings remain in place and shares a nugget of knowledge that the tallest coconut tree on the resort is adjacent to the first driven piling.

Nanny Cay has had a number of owners over its 30 years of existence including a brief stint by famous brewers, Guinness. In fact, Nanny Cay holds a minor footnote in legal history having been the subject of a receivership for over 12 years during the 1980s and 1990s, the longest ever receivership in the history of Barclays Bank PLC. This receivership ended in 2000 when current owners Cameron McColl and John McCoach bought Nanny Cay from Barclays; it has been going from strength to strength ever since.

Read about the new Outer Marina and plans